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The global aftershocks of Japan's disaster

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REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

(Read caption) An elderly woman who fled from the vicinity of Fukushima nuclear power plant sits at an evacuation center set in a gymnasium in Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture in northern Japan.

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The devastating earthquake that struck Japan late last week has global implications.

The images of nature on the rampage flashed around the world. Everyone living or working in a coastal area has taken notice. Anyone near a nuclear power plant is watching closely as well.

Japan is one of the most technologically advanced nations on earth. Its government and citizens conduct frequent drills. Emergency-response forces sprang into action. And yet thousands may have died.

Food, clothing, first-aid, and electricity remain in short supply. And crippled nuclear facilities remain a concern.

The disaster eclipsed the Christchurch, New Zealand, quake of last month and the Chilean earthquake of a year ago, both of which also occurred in the geologically active "ring of fire" that encircles the Pacific Ocean. Those nations are still coping with the aftermath. Whether there's a direct connection or not, officials in earthquake-prone zones such as California will be reviewing plans for how they will cope if shifting tectonic plates affect their region. Many lessons will be drawn from the earthquake.

Meanwhile, this is a time for prayer, support, and assistance for the people of Japan.


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